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Shuai Zhang

Faculty Photo

Affiliate Assistant Professor
Materials Science & Engineering


Shuai Zhang's research interests mainly focus on utilizing in-situ high-resolution and high-speed atomic force microscopy (AFM) and 3D Fast Force Mapping (3DFFM) to understand the structure, dynamics, and function of bio-macromolecular self-assembly at solid-liquid interfaces, inorganic minerals, clays and oxides, and further integrating these observations with simulation and deep learning (DL) to describe the corresponding models and adaptively control the synthetic outcomes. In addition, he is interested in how hydration water layer affects the structure, dynamics, and function of bio-macromolecule and how environmental stimuli modulate them. Third, Dr. Zhang is working on superlattices and nanomechanical properties of 2D van der Waals materials and catalysis of doped MXene with functional AFM.


  • Aarhus University, Denmark, 2014
  • Jilin University, P.R.China, 2009

Previous appointments

  • Acting Instructor, Materials Science & Engineering, University of Washington, 2020
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Materials Science & Engineering, University of Washington, 2019-2020
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 2015-2019

Research Statement

  • Bimolecular self-assembly, dynamics, and functions at solid-liquid interfaces 
  • Crystallization and growth of inorganic minerals, clays, and oxides
  • Interfacial structures and properties at solid-liquid interfaces
  • Property studies of 2D Van der Waals materials and MXene by atomic force microscopy electrostatic force microscopy, conductive atomic force microscopy, etc.
  • Bacterial morphology, interior structure, and functions 
  • Disease-related tissue evaluation and corresponding diagnosis

Current projects

The Center for the Science of Synthesis Across Scales, Energy Frontier Research Center, Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences


Select publications

  1. Co-Assembly of Carbon Nanotube Porins into Biomimetic Peptoid Membranes, Zhang, S.: Hettige, J.J.; Li, Y.; Jian, T.; Yang, W.; Yao, Y.-C.; Zheng, R.; Lin, Z.; Tao, J.; De Yoreo, J.J.; Baer, M.; Noy, A.; Chen, C.’L.; Small, ASAP
  2. Rotational States and Transition Mechanisms of Surface-Adsorbed Proteins, Zhang, S.*; Sadre R.*; Legg, B.*; Pyles, H.; Leite, T.P.C.; Bethel, E.W.; Baker, D.; Ruebel, O.; De Yoreo, J.J. Proc Natl Acad Sci, 2022 doi: 10.1073/pnas.2020242119
  3. Engineering self-assembly of biomacromolecules at solid-liquid interfaces, Zhang, S.#, *; Chen, J.*; Liu, J.*; Pyles, H., Baker, D.; Chen, C.; De Yoreo, J.J.; Advanced Materials 2021, DOI: 10.1002/adma.201905784.
  4. Programmable two-dimensional nanocrystals assembled from of POSS-containing peptoids as highly efficient artificial light-harvesting systems, Wang, W.; Yang, S.; Zhang, S.; Zhang, X.; Cai, X.; Lin, Y.; Chen, C.; Science Advances, 2021, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abg1448
  5. Assembly of a Patchy Protein into Variable 2D Lattices via Tunable, Multiscale Interactions, Zhang, S.*; Alberstein, R.*; De Yoreo, J.J.; Tezcan, A.F.; Nature Communications 2020, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17562-1
  6. Controlling protein assembly on inorganic crystals through designed protein interfaces, Pyles, H.*; Zhang, S.*; Baker, D.; De Yoreo, J.J.; Nature 2019. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1361-6.
  7. Barrier-Free Nucleation of 2D Materials, Chen, J.; Zhu, E.; Liu, J.; Zhang, S.; Heinz, H.; Huang, Y.; De Yoreo, J.J.; Science 2018. DOI: 10.1126/science.aau4146.
  8. Tuning crystallization pathways through sequence-engineering of biomimetic polymers. Ma, X.; Zhang, S.; Jiao, F.; Newcomb, C.; Zhang, Y.; Prakash, A.; Liao, Z.; Baer, M.; Mundy, C.; Pfaendter, J.; Noy, A.; Chen, C.; De Yoreo, J.; Nature Materials 2017,DOI:10.1038/nmat4891.
  9. In vitro single-cell dissection: interior structure of cable bacteria, Jiang, Z.*; Zhang, S.*; Klausen, L.H.; Song, J.; Li, Q.; Wang, Z.; Stokke, B.T.; Huang, Y.; Besenbacher, F.; Nielsen, L.P.; Dong, M.; Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2018, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1807562115.

Honors & awards

  • 2020 ‘Protein Chess Board in Nanoscale’ recognized by the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure image contest
  • 2019 Outstanding Performance Award, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA.
  • 2018 1st place poster award of 26th American Association for Crystal Growth, Western Section Conference, USA.
  • 2017 Outstanding Performance Award, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA.
  • 2014 Ph.D. prize of the Danish Academy of Natural Sciences, Denmark
  • 2013 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad, China.